From the time I was about three years old until well into my thirties, I was extremely timid. I was afraid of everything and everyone. I barely spoke and when I did, chances were people didn’t hear me. Even as a child, I saw glimmers of the gifts God had given me when I was saved at 9 years old. I could be outgoing around people I was very close to. I could reach out to and make friends with the underdog. But for the most part I lived inside a protective wall so that no one could hurt me. The shattered pieces of my heart were kept safe in within an oubliette far beneath the high walled world I created.
People who met me thought I was cold, when the truth was I was ultra-sensitive. Nearly every word spoken to me scared me, hurt me or scarred. Every word spoken near me was taken as an insult. I hated myself. It was easier to hate the world than risk being hurt by them.
Then in my thirties, I took a trip that would forever change my life. God called me to go to The Amazon Jungle in Brazil on a missions trip. There was nothing about the trip that didn’t terrify me. I had to live on a boat and sleep in a hammock in close proximity to 25 people. I had to do and face things I was afraid of all day, every day. But what God showed me was beautiful. I felt completely at peace while I was serving Him in the medical clinic we had set up for the trip. He showed me that I could serve Him and not feel the fear I lived with. He also used that trip to connect with the people who would love me through my wall and help demolish it, the Body of Christ.
I met many wonderful people on that trip, but I stayed behind my wall. I didn’t even know the wall existed, so how could I step outside of it? I was a prisoner within my own oubliette looking up, wishing for rescue and terrified of what rescue would bring. One of those people was a woman God would use and continues to use to minister His Holy Spirit to me, Glynda. She was originally put off by my coldness. But God used her gift of mercy to show her that I was scared, alone, and sensitive. She reached out to me carefully and patiently. On our plane ride home we sat near one another and she talked to me, quite a bit, not about fixing me, but about her own issues, she spoke to me like a friend. By the time we landed she had invited me to attend her small group (Christianese word equivalent to what people think of as Sunday School).
It was there at Group R.E.A.L. that I met the other people who would be instrumental in God’s work on transforming me. Eventually that group became The Church of Life. The people there loved more earnestly than I had ever experienced in my Christian faith. They loved me actively and with their gifts. 1 Peter 4:8-11 reads,
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
This is how they loved me and still love me. This is how I love them. It is not a mushy gushy feeling, it is active, it is beneficial. It is with The Spirit for The Father’s glory and through Jesus Christ. This is the love that transformed me. It is the love of God described perfectly in 1 Corinthians 13 and manifested in believers by the fruit of The Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
What did that love do for me? It tore down the wall, at first only a brick a time, then as I allowed it, it demolished that wall and showed me that the heart which had been broken beyond repair was new and beautiful and in God’s hands. It transformed me completely. I am not the person I used to be, and Believer, neither are you. I was a prisoner to fear, now I still have fears, but I do not serve them, I serve Christ. 2 Corinthian 5:16-21 says it this way.
“From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Whatever we were before salvation, is changed now for God’s glory, in order for us to become the righteousness of God (like Jesus Christ) and in order to bring others that gift of reconciliation to God so they too can become the righteousness of God.
But we so often let things stop us from ministry, from using our gifts, and serving God. We all have some ministry we are called for and they are diverse. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 says it like this,
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
The same Lord, the same Spirit, the same God empowers each gift. While we all have different gifts and so different ways of serving, we are all called to the same commission which our gifts enable us to fulfill. Matthew 28:18-20 records the directive Jesus gave us,
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
For me, that directive is carried out by my evangelistic street ministry of prophetic prayer, by my ministry of these daily devotionals, and through deliberate beneficence at each opportunity I recognize. No, not everyone is called to street ministry, but every believer has the ability to participate in ministry. Even if you do not have the gift of prophecy and someone you meet needs a prophetic word, God will enable you to speak His word. If you do not have the gift of evangelism, you are not excused from evangelism. If you do not have the gift of healing and someone needs healing, God will heal through you. 2 Corinthians 9:10-15 reads,
“He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!”
So many of us let fear stop us from using our gifts, especially for the call of evangelism. We use excuses that we do not want to be rejected, it is not our gift, or we don’t know how. We let the spirit of fear overcome us and quench the Spirit. Giving into fear is not living by faith, it is not walking in power or in Jesus’ authority. It is living in slavery to sin. 2 Timothy 1:6-10 reads,
“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,”
The gifts God gave you must be used, they must be fanned into flame. God gave you His Spirit and that gives you power, love, and self-control. You do not have to be controlled by fear, by the enemy, or your flesh. You have the Holy Spirit in you, manifested by the use of your gifts! We cannot let anxiety, lies about how we “can’t,” or fear keep us from the service and walk we are called to. Philippians 4:4-13 reads,
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
God will provide what you need to serve Him. He will use your gifts for His service. He will provide the words to defend the Gospel of Christ. (Luke 21:14-15). Whatever your gifts are, you can participate in ministries and service and God will use you. It is God, not you.
For me, I am extremely introverted, yet God’s gifts use me as an extrovert. My weakness shows His strength. I am a clay jar filled with God’s treasure. It is God who is manifested in me. I have nothing to fear. 2 Corinthians 4:7-15 puts it this way,
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”
Believer, what are you afraid of? Whatever it is, it is a lie! You have been given a spirit of power, love and self-control. You have been given gifts which are manifestations of The Holy Spirit. You have been called to a mission, which the enemy will tell you is impossible for you, but which Jesus tells you is possible through Him.